Jessica Bason (24) is a Band 6 midwife working in mid Wales. Jessica trained in and took a placement in England but the commuting made it difficult to achieve work-life balance. She considered leaving midwifery altogether before stumbling across the perfect job, in Wales.
While I was training, I had an auntie who worked in mid Wales, so I was aware of how the local health board supported its staff. It was my dream to work as a community midwife there, but there were no jobs available at the time. So I worked in an English hospital delivery suite for 18 months. I enjoyed the job but it was mainly working with more complex pregnancies which helped me build my skill base but could also be difficult at times.
That combined with renting a house part-time in England while travelling back and forth to mid Wales when I could, plus the guilt of leaving my partner to look after our farm on his own got too much. I checked the NHS Wales job site again, and a Band 5 post just half a mile from my home came up. I couldn’t believe it and felt it was fate that this post had become available.
I went to the interview and it was tough, mainly skills based with discussion around the role and how we’d handle different situations. I came out of the interview unsure, but my passion for the discipline and my desire for the job must have shone through as that afternoon I got the call to say I’d been successful.
In 2017, I started my new position as a community midwife, and I haven’t looked back. I love the way we care for women in mid Wales, it’s person-centred. You get your case load and you will be the main midwife for a woman throughout her care. So you get to know her really well and understand how to support her during the birth. Every day is a real mix, you’ll get two on call shifts a week but other days are usually a mix of routine appointments for pre- and post-natal care.
My favourite thing about working in a small team is that everyone supports each other. You can work flexibly and get shifts to fit your lifestyle. The whole team works together to ensure everyone has a great work-life balance – we are all friends and know each other really well so we want to look after each other.
A lot of people think that all midwives are the same, but adjusting from working in a delivery suite to community midwifery was perhaps the biggest challenge of my career. It felt like I was learning a new job! Luckily, I had a team member that had gone through the same transition, so they were on hand to guide and coach me.
Births vary according to circumstances and complexity. The nature of midwifery means you have to ensure you have the coping mechanisms to protect your mental health and enable you to go back to the job day after day. Working on the farm really helps me with that and the flexibility of the shift patterns means I can take time to spend time with my animals.
Moving my career to Wales has also opened up a range of opportunities professionally. I’ve been offered local positions with the RCM and have spoken about my experiences to midwifery students. There are plenty of opportunities to grow and diversify my skills into alternative treatments such as hypnobirthing or using aromatherapy during birth.
Working as a midwife is the most rewarding career. When you put your uniform on for your first day as a qualified midwife the feeling you get makes the years of work it took to get to that point worth it.
With flexible working, supportive colleagues, affordable homes and amazing countryside within easy reach, Wales is a great place to find your work-life balance.